As businesses realise the need to promote talent from within their existing workforce, there has been much written about the need to discover, nurture and empower a new breed of 'intrepreneur'.
Essentially, these are entrepreneurs already working within your company. However, traditionally entrepreneurs have been people who want a great deal of autonomy to achieve their ambitions. Can this need for autonomy, and other traits of entrepreneurs, be accommodated when they are employees rather than bosses?
In an interesting article in The Sunday Times*, Luke Johnson describes the top 10 motivations he has encountered amongst entrepreneurs, through his involvement in the Centre for Entrepreneurs. In his experience, entrepreneurs:
- Need high levels of autonomy and/or to run their own business.
- Are essentially creative
- Thrive on the practical nature of building a business.
- Enjoy the challenge of problem-solving
- "Relish risk" and "enjoy the struggle"
- May be 'accidental entrepreneurs' driven by circumstance or necessity
- Prefer a more flexible work style
- Seek a better work/life balance
- Want to forge a legacy
At first the list may seem very much at odds with the usual corporate structure:, but Johnson likens the path of business creation to that of a play or drama. "It begins when they start or buy a business; it continues as they encounter difficulties; they overcome these to achieve a resolution; and their tale ends in triumph (or occasional tragedy)."
The same 'plot' can apply, of course, to any innovation, new product or new service taking place within your business. Perhaps the major difference between a corporate-led innovation and an intrepreneur-driven one could be be the degree of autonomy awarded for the development of ideas and projects.
The best idea management systems such as Talkfreely already allow for specific groups or users to drive specific ideas. Ticking many of the requirements of entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs, groups can be actively involved in the creative side of problem-solving, the practical side of development and application, and in some ways, take on the risk element of an unproven idea. Their activities can be overseen by management with as much hands-on or hands-off involvement and support as required, and if the end successes are implemented and celebrated, then the team will have created a legacy too.
By providing the right environment and freedoms to your intrepreneurs, your business could liberate a wealth of talent and energy that will drive ideas faster, further and with more passion than before. Such actions may also stem the greatest risk intrepreneurs pose to your business; that the brightest and more innovative staff will leave before your business discovers them and end up being your competition instead!
* Feeling creative? Don't paint a picture, build a business" Business Section, The Sunday Times, 5th April 2015.